Each foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, 19 muscles, nearly 200,000 nerve endings and countless blood vessels. Why then do so many people jam or strap their feet into killer shoes that wreak such havoc on this key body part?

Sky-high heels, too-low flats, arch-less flip-flops and pointy or wrong-sized shoes can cause deformed toes, painful bumps and bunions, inflamed nerves or bones, torn or overstretched ligaments, even hairline fractures. Fashion victims are primarily the ladies.

“Women who routinely wear high heels are putting themselves at risk of permanent physiological damage to their knees, hips, back and tendons,” says Phillip Vasyli, a podiatrist and the founder of Orthaheel, a maker of corrective footwear.

David Van Klaveren, co-CEO of Barefooters, who also makes shoes engineered to relieve foot problems, takes the issue one step further: “The other thing about a high-heel shoe is that you’re putting a lot of weight in an unnatural way in the forefoot of the shoe. The feet aren’t designed for that.”